Mercury face Dream in bid for10th straight win

National Sports

The Phoenix Mercury will try to sweep the season series against the Atlanta Dream on Wednesday when the teams meet in College Park, Ga.

On Aug. 15, the Mercury downed the visiting Dream 92-81, a result that kicked off Phoenix’s current nine-game winning streak.

The teams squared off again on Aug. 21, and Phoenix (18-10) came away with an 84-69 road win. Skylar Diggins-Smith averaged 22 points and seven assists for the Mercury in the two victories.

Both of those results were part of an 11-game losing streak for the Dream (7-20). The skid ended Sunday when Tiffany Hayes had 22 points, eight rebounds and three steals in a 69-64 win over the Dallas Wings at Arlington, Texas.

Monique Billings also had her second straight double-double in the victory, Atlanta’s first on the road since May 29, when the Dream beat the New York Liberty 90-87 in overtime.

On Sunday, Billings registered 12 points and a season-best 14 rebounds, and teammate Courtney Williams contributed 17 points.

“We’ve improved in a lot of measurable areas,” Atlanta interim coach Darius Taylor said. “We don’t have the finishers that some other teams have. We’re finding ways to stay in games.”

Phoenix is coming off an 86-81 win over the Indiana Fever on Monday in Indianapolis.

Brittney Griner had 21 points and 10 rebounds in a result that was closer than expected against the last-place Fever.

Phoenix star Diana Taurasi is listed as doubtful for the Wednesday game due to a left ankle injury sustained in the closing seconds of the win at Indiana. The Mercury have indicated that Taurasi’s availability will be a game-time decision.

Sophie Cunningham or Shey Peddy could start in her place. Bria Hartley might be available for more playing time in her third game back from major knee surgery.

Taurasi sat out 12 games due to injuries before the Olympics but has played in nine games since winning her fifth gold medal with Team USA. She is averaging 15.2 points, 4.9 assists and 4.4 rebounds per game this season.

“She’s one of the toughest players out there,” Phoenix coach Sandy Brondello said. “Hopefully she’ll be OK. I think she stood on someone’s foot there.

“No one comes close to her (value). Regardless of what happens in the rest of the game, she can come out and make the big plays. That’s what makes her really special.”

–Field Level Media

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